Health Services Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Course Info

About this article
What kind of job can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in health services? Find out degree program requirements, online options and info on courses and health services training programs.
View available schools

Studying Health Services: Degrees at a Glance

Health services specialists plan, manage and execute the delivery of healthcare services in hospitals, physician's offices, nursing homes and home healthcare settings. With a degree in the field, you can embark upon several different career pathways in the diagnostic, clinical, research, informatics or support services areas of health services.

An Associate of Arts in Health Services Administration prepares you for entry-level administrative or medical transcription jobs. Bachelor's degree programs prepare you for careers as a medical or health services manager, central services director or medical project administrator. Note, however, that specialization may require additional training or licensure. For example, if you pursue a career in clinical management, you may need additional education, work experience and licensure.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in entry-level administrative, clinical or information management jobs People who want to become an administrator or manager in the general, clinical or support services areas
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Medical receptionist or information clerk ($27,000 - this salary represents all receptionists and information clerks)*
- Medical secretary ($32,000)*
- Medical records and health information technician ($36,000)*
- Administrative services manager ($87,000)*
- Medical and health services manager ($96,000)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60 credits in general education, elective and major courses
- Internship with a healthcare company or organization
- Roughly 120 credits
- English language requirement
- Internship
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's in Health Services Administration

An associate's degree program in health services administration provides students with a foundation in the business of healthcare and prepares them to work as a medical administrative assistant or medical records and health information technician. The curriculum of these programs covers healthcare concepts such as medical terminology and the principles of medical finance.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Earned credits may transfer to a bachelor's degree program
  • Many programs offer an internship, which provides valuable hands-on work experience
  • Degree qualifies you for careers in multiple fields and settings, both within and outside the healthcare industry

Cons

  • Degree does not qualify you for high-level administrative or management jobs
  • Some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree for administrative positions
  • Specializations are not always available, despite the fact that specializing in a clinical area may be important to finding employment

Common Courses and Requirements

Classes in these programs cover the administrative, communication and interpersonal skills required to work in healthcare settings. The curriculum usually includes courses in medical terminology, communications and technology. Some programs require completion of an internship in a healthcare setting. You may take classes like:

  • Business applications and writing
  • Ethnicity and diversity
  • Human disease
  • Medical finance
  • Health insurance
  • Procedure coding

Online Degree Options

Associate's degree programs in health services administration are available online. The curriculum of these programs is the same as their on-campus counterparts. Generally, these programs are designed for working professionals. Note that the accreditation of an online program may effect your ability to earn professional certifications or licenses.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

To stand out with your degree, consider becoming certified. The International Association of Administrative Professionals offers the Certified Administrative Professional qualification, an accolade that demonstrates your administrative competence. This certification can enhance employment prospects by validating your technical expertise.

Additionally, some career opportunities require work experience. Taking advantage of internships, which provide practical application of your classroom knowledge and expose you to the functions of a medical office, provides you with valuable experience prior to your initial job search. This may make your resume stand out against your competition.

Other Degrees to Consider

If you don't think that a health services administration degree is right for you, you might consider earning a degree in health informatics. The United States federal government requires that healthcare facilities implement a paperless health information system by 2015. The field of health informatics combines medicine, information science and technology, and a degree in the field provides you with the technical skills required to ensure that an organization's information system complies with government regulations. The BLS expects demand for medical records and health information technicians to grow 21% during 2010-2020. In 2011, these workers earned approximately $36,000 per year.

Bachelor's in Health Services Administration

A bachelor's degree program in health services administration explores topics like health informatics, public health and medical coding. These programs prepares graduates for careers as an administrative services manager or medical and health services manager.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • According to the BLS, earnings potential for bachelor's degree holders are higher than for associate's degree holders (administrative assistant $31,000 median vs. administrative services manager $80,000 median)
  • As the employment landscape becomes more technical and competitive, employers seek candidates with higher education, making your degree more marketable
  • Program allows you to participate in internship programs to gain valuable, hands-on experience

Cons

  • Some medical facilities may require a master's degree for medical services manager opportunities
  • If you are employed in healthcare, switching professions may also require a master's degree for advancement
  • It may take longer than 4 years to obtain the appropriate education, experience and licensure to become fully qualified for certain positions

Common Courses and Requirements

The curriculum of these programs teaches students how to design, shape and control medical programs or facilities. Programs provide the training required to make critical decisions in staffing, finance, medical services and patient support. You are usually also required to complete an internship at a healthcare organization. In these programs you complete classes like:

  • Healthcare systems
  • Gerontology
  • Health economics
  • Quality management
  • Healthcare finance
  • Healthcare information systems

Online Degree Options

Online bachelor's degrees in health services administration are available. These programs are typically designed for working professionals and those seeking to accelerate their learning. If you plan to obtain licensure, you should consult with the licensing authority to ensure that it accepts the particular program. Generally, courses in online programs are the same as those in on-campus programs.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

To stand out with your degree, you might consider specializing in a technical area such as health informatics. Being familiar with these aspects of healthcare, particularly in light of the federal government's mandate, can make your resume more attractive to employers.

Other Degrees to Consider

If you do not think that a bachelor's degree in health services is right for you, and you are interested in an administrative or management position, you may want to consider entering the field of human resources in a healthcare setting. Degree programs in this field focus on teaching you how to manage personnel in a hospital, clinic or other medical setting. The BLS reports that, in 2011, human resources managers earned about $99,000 per year. The BLS expects 13% job growth in this industry during the 2010-2020 decade.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Health Care Administration, A.S.
      • Health Care Administration, A.S.
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Healthcare Management
      • Associate: Health Information Management
      • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist
  • Campus and Online Programs
    3. College of Westchester

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Health Information Management - Associate
  • Fremont, OH

    Terra State Community College

  • Bethany, OK

    Southern Nazarene University

  • Lincoln, NE

    Southeast Community College Area

  • Dayton, OH

    Sinclair Community College

  • Gainesville, FL

    Santa Fe College

  • Oklahoma City, OK

    Oklahoma State University

  • Palatka, FL

    Saint Johns River State College

Featured Schools

Colorado Christian University

  • Health Care Administration, A.S.

What is your highest level of education completed?

Herzing University

  • Associate: Healthcare Management
  • Associate: Health Information Management
  • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist

What is your highest level of education?

College of Westchester

  • Health Information Management - Associate

What is your highest level of education completed?

Terra State Community College

Southern Nazarene University

Southeast Community College Area

Sinclair Community College

Santa Fe College